You probably have to go a ways back to get the title reference, but it is meant with all due respect. So hopefully this blogpost will be beneficial to those of use who have less sight than most.


Computing for the visually impaired.
There are quite a few people doing computing who are heavily visually impaired and or even blind. Know of many system administrators both male and female who earn their livelihood and are blind. Traditionally, special sound equipment had to be added to a computer so that all commands and or keystrokes would be spoken via a speech synthesizer. Now with newer systems that is not so much true. Linux has several distros that are free as in beer that were developed for the visually impaired. Knoppix, which has been around a long time was probably the first distro I know of to support visually impaired users. You can get it using wget or going to the url of:

Another distro is also available too:

Vinix (based on ubuntu)

Advanced users can try:
There is also software that can be added to existing linux systems to make accessibility easier:
brltty – Access software for a blind person using a braille display
brltty-x11 – Access software for a blind person using a braille display
texlive-latex-extra – TeX Live: LaTeX supplementary packages
brltty-flite – Access software for a blind person using a braille display
brltty-speechd – Access software for a blind person using a braille display
libcolorblind-dev – Pixel Filter for colorblind accessibility – headers
libcolorblind0 – Pixel Filter for colorblind accessibility
speechd-el – Emacs speech client using Speech Dispatcher
speechd-el-doc-cs – speechd-el documentation in Czech
squareness – suite of skins for different applications
ttf-tiresias – Fonts for the visually impaired

No one should be kept from computing. Hope this article helps someone.


What we would like to do is to be able to listen to podcasts and music from either the internet or over the air.You sould even listen to files being spoken. Just because you do not have a fancy graphics card does not mean you can not listen to music.

What’s needed:

Linux based computer.
A supported sound card.
Speakers or headset.
FM radio card ( or analog tv capture card that has a radio tuner.

Note: can do this on a gui based machine from a terminal also. If you are visually impaired, instructables like this can be very important.

Command line sound recording.

feedback here…
You may want to record sound or even take oral notes for later playback, create your own podcast, or even create a podbook. I do this for lecture recording.

$ sudo apt-get install sound-recorder

When recording from the command line the command is:

$ sound-recorder -c 2 -b 16 -P -S 5:00 recording.wav

The options set stereo recording (-c 2), 16 bit sampling (-b 16), priority threading (-P) to ensure high priority in CPU usage, and limiting the recording to 5 minutes. The output is written to the file recording.wav.

Many of these options are the default so you can simply:

$ sound-recorder -P recording.wav

or use

arecord: Linux Command to List all Soundcards and Digital Audio Devices

Here is a quick way to list all detected and working soundcards. Use arecord command line sound recorder and player for ALSA soundcard driver. The -l option List all soundcards and digital audio devices. The -L option list all PCMs defined. The information obtained from following command can be used to play various media files […]


$ arecord filename.ext


$ aplay filename.ext

Local music files.

You can play your music files or files you have recorded  locally or from a server share. Generally they will be files with the wav, ogg, or mp3 extension.

sudo apt -get install mplayer

$ mplayer musicfilename

mplayer actually has a ton of oprions but it’s simplest form will usally do the job.

Hint: file *  can let you know what kind of files are in your directory.

$ cd 2011-12-03/
~/2011-12-03$ ls
hpr0861.ogg  hpr0863.ogg  hpr0865.ogg  hpr0867.ogg  hpr0869.ogg  podcast.m3u
hpr0862.ogg  hpr0864.ogg  hpr0866.ogg  hpr0868.ogg  hpr0870.ogg
~/2011-12-03$ file *.ogg
hpr0861.ogg: Ogg data, Vorbis audio, mono, 44100 Hz, ~80000 bps, created by: Xiph.Org libVorbis I
hpr0862.ogg: Ogg data, Vorbis audio, mono, 44100 Hz, ~80000 bps, created by: Xiph.Org libVorbis I
hpr0863.ogg: Ogg data, Vorbis audio, mono, 44100 Hz, ~80000 bps, created by: Xiph.Org libVorbis I
hpr0864.ogg: Ogg data, Vorbis audio, mono, 44100 Hz, ~80000 bps, created by: Xiph.Org libVorbis I
hpr0865.ogg: Ogg data, Vorbis audio, mono, 44100 Hz, ~80000 bps, created by: Xiph.Org libVorbis I
hpr0866.ogg: Ogg data, Vorbis audio, mono, 22050 Hz, ~40222 bps, created by: Xiph.Org libVorbis I
hpr0867.ogg: Ogg data, Vorbis audio, mono, 44100 Hz, ~80000 bps, created by: Xiph.Org libVorbis I
hpr0868.ogg: Ogg data, Vorbis audio, mono, 44100 Hz, ~80000 bps, created by: Xiph.Org libVorbis I
hpr0869.ogg: Ogg data, Vorbis audio, mono, 44100 Hz, ~80000 bps, created by: Xiph.Org libVorbis I
hpr0870.ogg: Ogg data, Vorbis audio, mono, 44100 Hz, ~80000 bps, created by: Xiph.Org libVorbis I

Set the computer to wake you up an play  reveille.

crontab -e

# run at 6 am on weekdays, to wake me up
0 6 * * 1-5    mplayer /home/you/reveille.mp3

Podcast catcher.

As we said earlier you can create your own podcast. But what if you what to listen to other podcasts and you do not want to spend a lot of time downloading each file one at a time. You can use what is know as a a podcatcher. The podcatcher is a batch file that goes out to the internet and grabs the files for you based on the listings in a file called bp.conf. You will need to use links2, elinks, or something similar to go out an get what is known as the rss feed. Most sites have their links on the main page. Once you get that link, you you want to put it in your bp.conf file.


make a dir suc as podcasts
Download and put bp.conf,, and parse_enclosure.xsl3 into that directory.
change to that directory .
$ chmod +x
$ ./

vim or nano bp.conf and add your rss feeds.

Have computer get new podcasts once a week

#@weekly   Run once a week.
0 0 * * 0 /home/yourname/musicdirectory/

When you want to hear a podcast, go to the music directory and use mplauer.
There will be subdirectories by date.

bp.conf49 bytes
parse_enclosure.xsl316 bytes KB

Over the internet radio.

Lots of radio stations broad cast over the internet now, so you do not need an antenna to get quite a few stations. You will need to get the music feed. Some site have it right there for you. Some you have to extract the feed form a file. Newer stations no longer allow you to easily use a feed to play it in your computer.

udo apt-get install mpg123

you will need to gett he website and port mo.

mpg321 website”portnimber

$ mpg321

in some cases you will have to download the playlist file and extract the the url:port. you can use links2 ot or elinks to grab the playlist name and then use wget to grab the file. once you have file you can extrat the url:portnumber.

$ wget

Som stations use the m3u format.
$ cat 96-32.m3u

The it is just a matter of running mpg123

$ mpg123

Some newer station require flash of a particular player to listen to their music.  tjat is a subject for another day.

Over the air radio.

Over the air radio is nice because it will not use any intenet bandwidth except a site to list what radio station are available in your area. You will need to get an old radio tuner card or some old analog tv capture cards have them. You might have to look around for one. they no longer seem to be sold in the stores.

$ sudo apt-get install radio

To get the tuner card to search for stations you would:

$ radio i

and then to play the stations you would just

$ radio

radio – console radio application

radio [ options ]

radio is a interactive, ncurses-bases console radio application.

-h     print a short help text.

-d     enable debug output.

-q     quit after processing the cmd line options, don’t enter interac
tive ncurses mode.  Only useful together with other options  for
obvious reasons …

-m     mute radio.

-f freq
tune the specified radio frequency (and unmute the radio).

-c dev specify radio device (default is /dev/radio).

-s     Do a scan for radio stations.

-S     Same  as  above  + write a radio.fmmap with the signal for every
frequency.  You can get  a  graph  for  it  with  gnuplot  (plot
“radio.fmmap” w lin).

-i     Scan,  write a initial ~/.radio file to stdout and quit.  So you
can create a config file where you only have to fill in the cor
rect  station  names later this way: “radio -i > ~/.radio”.  See
below for the config file syntax.

radio picks up station names and present stations from a  config  file.
It  can  parse  kradio (KDE radio app) config files, therefore it first
tries the usual KDE config file location: ~/.kde/share/config/kradiorc.
Failing that, radio tries ~/.radio (which makes things a bit easier for
people who don’t use kradio).

The format looks like this:

# KDE Config File
95800000=Radio eins
91400000=Berliner Rundfunk

The [Buttons] section can have up  to  eight  entries.   That  are  the
present  stations,  they  get  mapped to F1-F8.  The [Stations] section
maps frequencies to station names.  The frequencies  in  both  sections
are specified in Hz.

X         exit
ESC,Q,E      mute and exit.
up/down      inc/dec frequency
pgup/pgdown  next/previous station.  This one uses the
stations from the config file by default.
When started with the -s option these keys
will cycle througth the stations found during
the scan.
F1-F8, 1-8   preset buttons.
Ctrl+L       redraw screen.

Ereader speaker.

For PS and PDF files:
See for more details.

For text files:

sudo apt-get install festival espeak.

$ cat textfilemname | festival –tts

Note: this is also great to use in batch files for headless servers so that you can be notified when certain jobs are done, warning messages, and etc.


Additional links:


Pudding pie.


1 – 9 inch pre-made graham cracker pie crust.

2 – boxes instant chocolate pudding.

3.5 –  cups milk.

1/2 cup + chocolate chips.

Whipped cream.


Place pudding mix and milk in a bowl. Mix thoroughly. Add the chocolate chips. Stir a few times so that the chips are evenly distributed.. Pour mixture into the graham cracker crust and cover. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. Add whipped cream as desired.

Good day.